Speaking of Abortion..

Yesterday’s blog ended with a question about the motives of the anti-abortion culture warriors. Although there are obviously many sincere people who have moral or religious objections to reproductive choice, the punitive measures advanced by many others (together with their utter lack of concern about what happens to the babies so “saved” once they are born) raises legitimate questions about their real agenda.

I’m not much for conspiracy theories; I tend to agree with a colleague from my days in city government who often remarked that incompetence explains so much more than conspiracies. But in this case, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that a fair number of the men who have staked out anti-abortion positions (and yes, they’re disproportionately male) aren’t as opposed to abortion as they are to women’s full equality. (Keep ’em barefoot and pregnant, like God intended…).

After all, if you are truly anti-abortion, you’d support programs that reduce the need for and incidence of abortion.

The New York Times recently reported on the GOP’s war on contraception and Planned Parenthood:

One would imagine that congressional Republicans, almost all of whom are on record as adamantly opposing abortion, would be eager to fund programs that help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

That would be the common sense approach, anyway.

And yet since they took over the House in 2011, Republicans have been trying to obliterate the highly effective federal family-planning program known as Title X, which gives millions of lower-income and rural women access to contraception, counseling, lifesaving cancer screenings, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

A House subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services has proposed to eliminate all Title X funding — about $300 million — from a 2016 spending bill.

The bill would also slash funding by up to 90 percent for sex education, specifically President Obama’s teen-pregnancy prevention initiative. The only winner was abstinence-only education, whose funding the subcommittee voted to double, despite the fact that it has basically no effect on abstinence and has been associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy.

Federal law prohibits the use of any federal dollars for abortion or abortion-related services, and has for many years. That inconvenient fact hasn’t prevented the “pro-life” posers from insisting that their efforts to eviscerate reproductive health programs serving poor women–programs that save the lives of many of those women–are “pro life.” Of course, they aren’t “pro” anything. They are anti-woman–and fiscally irresponsible.

What Title X grants actually do is help prevent unwanted pregnancies — more than one million in 2012, which translates to about 363,000 abortions avoided. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization, every public dollar spent on family planning services saved about $7 in costs related to pregnancy, birth and infant care, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer. So the proposal to slash the program’s funding is not just inhumane, it’s also fiscally dumb.

A genuine opposition to abortion would require support for family planning programs that reduce abortions. A genuine concern for “life” would include concern for the lives of poor women. A genuine commitment to fiscal conservatism would mandate support for programs that demonstrably save tax dollars.

The operative word is “genuine.”


  1. Only women get pregnant. Only women know what it means to be responsible for pre-natal care. These same said women are often raped or seduced by lust crazed men, or men who will abandon them when children become a major issue in a relationship. Women make the choice. No one with compassion is pro abortion. However, the absence of real care for poor children is no recommendation for bringing children forcibly into the world without the mother’s consent. It is a choice for the woman, and her alone. Dictatorship is always wrong, including dictatorship over a woman.

  2. It is not accurate to say the NY Times is “reporting” this when what you are citing is an editorial.

    Your suggestion that it is men who are the ones opposed to abortion ignores virtually every poll that has shown women almost as supportive of restrictions on abortion than men and sometimes more so.

    You also ignore the fact that money is fungible. If tax dollars goes to Planned Parenthood for contraception, that simply frees up money for PP, the biggest provider of abortion in the country, to spend money on abortion.

    You’re just continuing the “War on Women” nonsense. What I used to have my students is to pick an issue they feel passionately about. Then I told them to write the argument for the other side. If you did that it might cause you to better appreciate why people are horrified by abortion and oppose it. It has nothing to do with wanting to control women’s bodies. That’s liberal nonsense, a slogan devoid of reality.

  3. Good grief men. Why are you men so vocal on something that you rarely take seriously, like women’s bodies. Considering men make these babies, how about owning up to the responsibility and teaching your sons and grandsons to do the same. Or read my comment from yesterdays post.

  4. Paul;

    seeing you obviously don’t believe in freedom for women, maybe I can use a different approach:

    You will agree that those with money will never have difficulty dealing with unplanned pregnancies. This unfortunate circumstance will ever remain in the realm of the unfortunate. (Those without fortune)

    Therefore look at this as a matter of equality.

    You do believe in equality?

  5. “There is a human genetic fluke that is surprisingly common, due to a change in a key pair of chromosomes. In the normal condition the two look the same, but in this disorder one is malformed and shrunken beyond recognition The result is a shortened life span, higher mortality, an inability to reproduce, premature hair loss, and brain defects variously resulting in attention deficit, hyperactivity, conduct disorder, hypersexuality, and an enormous excess of both outward and self-directed aggression.

    It is called maleness.”

    ” See a brand new book: ” Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy “by Melvin Konner, M.D. (W.W. Norton and Company, N.Y. 2015)front cover flap.

    After reading this book, there should be no wonder why there is a conspiracy to keep women in their place.

    Should men do anything differently? Are they expected to give up control? Should they be expected to start worrying about the damage they have been doing to the Planet? I say YES.

    I admit to my prejudice. But I had a “world class feminist” as my long time companion and partner. And having observed her lifetime accomplishments and, in addition, how she handled her terminal illness, no one could ever convince me that women are not stronger than men.

  6. “After all, if you are truly anti-abortion, you’d support programs that reduce the need for and incidence of abortion.”

    That doesn’t follow one darn bit.

    Your entire argument rests on this failed premise.

    “A genuine opposition to abortion would require support for family planning programs that reduce abortions.”

    Nonsense. Noone is committed to supporting programs of any sort.

    Today’s effort is just strident snarkiness guaranteed to appeal to your dozen hardcore fans but will have little persuasive power beyond that audience.

  7. I assume that in any group of politicians there are a handful being honest about their beliefs but because politics is more about pragmatism than honesty the majority are reciting not preaching.

    Remember that it’s all about oligarchy. They are paying the Republicans to sell what is best for oligarchs. They are paying them with votes from the gullible who can be easily manipulated through media.

    What do oligarchs want? More money pure and simple. They believe (wrongly of course but they aren’t the brightest stars in the sky) that they get no value from government but it costs them too much. So the perfect world for them is if it was gone.

    So as one of their coaches, Grover Norquist, stated “I want government so small that I can take it home and drown it in the bathtub”.

    That’s all that they want and they feel entitled by wealth. End of story.

    They don’t care about abortion or babies or bodies. They care about money now. The damage in the wake of their greed is inconsequential to them. Morality is inconsequential. It’s all just noise.

    They hire people to blah, blah, blah on TV and somehow they get people to vote in the puppets and then the fun starts. Rape and pillage and plunder and more wonderful money in the oligarchs pocket.

    Make more money regardless of the cost to others. The one rule of business.

    They laugh at all this morality stuff. The opium of the masses.

    But if it buys votes that elect puppets they can put on the pius puss.

    This is not about morality it’s about power. Power is the opium of the powerful.

  8. I find it interesting the people who talk about the “Sanctity of Life” could seem to care less about adequate prenatal care or once the child is born. The Republicans have as one of their missions to destroy by whatever means the anemic Obama Care (ACA). Medicaid for all would be the ticket for adequate prenatal care and adequate medical care for newly born and mother. Try getting the Republicans to agree with Medicaid for all. Try getting the Republicans to agree with a paid leave of absence for the new Mother.

    Bob Knight, told Connie Chung in 1988 that ”if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” Some in the GOP have offered their opinion that a woman has a built in Star Trek Shield that will prevent pregnancy in the event of rape. U.S. Representative Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for one of Indiana’s U.S. Senate seats, “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

  9. Just heard that SCOTUS supported affordable health care. The GOP was spared to whine another day. Perhaps now liberals can add to that foundation the rest of the structure to save health care from make more money regardless of the cost to others.

  10. A major impetus for the Roe v. Wade decision was to eliminate unsafe, back-alley abortions. The Court understood that there were thousands of abortions even though they were illegal, and almost all abortions were unsafe.

    Paving the way for that decision was the Court’s 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision which overruled a Connecticut law that made it illegal for MARRIED COUPLES to use contraceptives or for a medical professional to counsel married couples on contraception. The Supreme Court ruled that couples have a right to privacy which supercedes government’s right to interfere on contraception. When Roe v. Wade was decided, the court decided women have a right to privacy too.

    As the NY Times article indicates, the very best way to prevent abortions is to prevent pregnancies.

  11. Nancy, you do err in stating that ‘nearly all abortions were unsafe’. Properly performed in proper settings, the procedure is one of the safest.

  12. Men have been dictating to women for centuries and longer about a woman’s right to control over her body. Wars have been fought, reforms have been driven by men who used women’s bodies and the children they produce to assert power. Rape is a convenient weapon to insure the continuation of the male’s identity, ethnic, racial, religious or political. Why would any woman want to insure the continued genetic line that results from rape or incest?
    Celibate men (well, not always celibate) in the Catholic Church have been making rules for controlling women’s bodies for thousands of years. Understanding the underlying reasons almost always leads to money/power (inheritance or alliances to secure power). Feudal lords needed the bodies of women to insure a steady supply of labor. Slaveholders could increase their “assets” by impregnating their female slaves without any financial outlay. Men in other religions used physical punishment or execution of transgressors to terrorize women into compliant submission to men’s control.
    It is only in very recent history have women had any chance of choice. Still, it is an unreachable dream for many women around the world. We have raised two sons to respect a woman’s right to decide if and when she wants to have a child and to understand the consequences for themselves in raising the child that results.
    Men who patronize and rationalize their insistence on absolute control and the women who actively support those actions should make their own choice and leave others to do the same.

    Men are the dominate group in the pro-life movement. Because some women are also supportive of those groups does not mean that it should be legal to deny all women reproductive control over their lives. Men have everything to gain in this issue They want to insure that their genetic line continues along with its associated power.
    Wealthy women will always have the option to control their reproductive choices. Poor women seldom have that same ability.

  13. On the average women in rich countries figure out how to have fewer children than women in poor countries.


    However there are no average women only individuals.

    So regardless of intent, competence, relationships, age, sexual history, parenting, financials, career, race, color and creed some women find themselves pregnant. Only women.

    What to do? Abort, deliver, put up for adoption. Huge life changing decision.

    Only she can and will decide. What the law says is secondary.

  14. Not sure how to make link work as intended. As near as I can tell the part that works turns up the search results. The rest if for one of the images, a bubble graph, referenced on that page.

  15. The way the argument is structured by the religious right is it is morally wrong to take a human life; therefore we are opposed to abortion. It is also morally wrong to provide birth control to those who can’t afford to pay for it themselves. This gets us to a world where the people with the means for birth control produce fewer offspring; those without reproduce at a much higher rate and fill the world with children they can’t afford, often making the children a problem for society as a whole.

    The religious right can’t acknowledge that humans are sexual organisms that are not swayed by the idea of abstinence. They are going to be sexual regardless; it’s our nature; it’s why there are so many of us. This is supported by the data.

    So it comes down to: you can’t have sex, but if you do, you have no recourse if you get pregnant, even (especially) you can’t afford it.

    Is it less moral to raise a child in poverty (perhaps by a drug addicted parent) or to allow abortions for those that want them?

  16. “A genuine opposition to abortion would require support for family planning programs that reduce abortions.”

    Except when the whole point of limiting access to contraception is to punish women for having sex. If they had their way, we would go back to handing out scarlet letters.

  17. Wallflower,

    A large purpose of insisting on female fidelity is the ensure the husband has a loyalty to his putative offspring.

    If the father has questions about the parentage of his purported children, the children and the wife risk total abandonment.

    Scarlet letters weren’t without a great social benefit. A man isn’t going to stay with a woman who has been sex with another man. Today, we have publicly viewable sex offender registries. If technology had come a bit earlier when adultery was still criminalized, cheating wives could have been included on the registry.

  18. Each abortion is a life-death social choice, an entirely legal or unlawful one. How otherwise would the procedure progress, comparable to the hundreds of trials daily in courthouses instead of operating theaters, chemical packaging floors, etc. When there is an issue like that on an official ballot (not .com) in my polling district, I will decide when I read that authoritatively.

  19. Gopper, aren’t you assuming that the average man only cares for children that share his DNA? Boy, I sure know lots of exceptions to that.

  20. Before I became an attorney, I was a public health nurse here in Marion County. Up to the point when Reagan took office, the Health Department received funding for free family planning clinics, which included GYN and well-woman examinations. Aside from preventing unwanted and unwise pregnancies, these examinations saved lives by detecting cancer and other medical problems, as well as a referral source for other types of family assistance. These clinics did not provide or even counsel for abortion, but any type of contraceptive, unless medically contraindicated, was provided, free of charge, by nurse practitioners who were supervised by physicians. Reagan immediately de-funded this program. Anyone who claims that such programs did not prevent abortions or were not worth every dime spent on them has no idea what they are talking about. The Health Department also had an extensive program of pre and post natal care and provided home visits by a registered nurse for high-risk newborns and those from impoverished families or very young mothers. The neonatal death rate was lower then.

  21. “Anyone who claims that such programs did not prevent abortions or were not worth every dime spent on them has no idea what they are talking about.”

    That’s not the argument here. Yours might be a more defensible position.

    Sheila is saying that opposition to abortion requires the opponent to fund these, and other, programs.

    That argument doesn’t follow.

  22. Well, Gopper, look at it like this: you are opposed to abortion, which can only happen if there is an unwanted or unwise pregnancy. Preventing pregnancy in the first place eliminates any chance of an abortion. Free or affordable family planning prevent unwise or unwanted pregnancies. Therefore, free or affordable family planning services prevent abortion. If you think that telling women to keep their panties pulled up is more appropriate, try saying that to Bristol Palin.

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